In the News: Nadia El-Mabrouk: Secularism is Necessary for the Emancipation of Women

Dans un monde réel près de chez vous (In a Real World in your Neighbourhood), Nadia El-Mabrouk, La Presse, 2018-10-11

For Nadia El-Mabrouk, secularism is a the first and foremost condition necessary for the emancipation of women and development.

While the former Miss Irak Tara Fares and other Iraqi women have been murdered for daring to defy the rules of the patriarchy, by appearing in public in Baghdad wearing jeans, here in Quebec, some people would have us believe that the Islamic veil is a symbol of freedom.

In Morocco, on September 15, women marched without veils, in silence and with their heads held high, to claim their right to public space without aggression or harassment. Meanwhile, here in Quebec, in one of the most egalitarian countries anywhere, Ève Torres, the veiled candidate of the Québec solidaire party, claimed to have adopted the veil as a form of protection. Meanwhile, anyone who questions the Islamic veil is accused of “Islamophobia.”

The most bizarre case is that of Jamil Azzaoui, a singer of Moroccan origin who was a candidate for the Green Party in the recent elections, but was expelled because of his friendship with the secular activist Djemila Benhabib! Have secular Muslims become pariahs in Quebec? Have they become invisible?

We are beginning to see pressure groups react to the CAQ’s secularism plans with the same strategy of vilification and demonisation which they once applied to the Parti québécois. Will they claim, once again, that secularism is a program which is racist, anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim? But as Ali Kaidi of the Association québécoise des Nord-Africains pour la laïcité (AQNAL: Quebec Association of North-Africans for Secularism) explains, racism is rather the refusal to discuss secularism with Muslims, the denial that they are incapable of undertanding it, and that secularism is incompatible with their religious and cultural values. The real racism is to condemn Muslims to isolation and captivity in their community.

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